From the little information available online surrounding Edward Snowden, one wonders how this young man advanced so far and so quickly in our prestigious intelligence establishments in so little time and with no formal education.
Here is an amazing time line that illustrates the phenomenal rise in position and wealth in two of the most prestigious intelligence agencies of the US government by a young man who had less than a high school diploma:
June 21, 1983
Born in Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Mother, clerk in U.S. District Court, MD
Father, officer in U.S. Coast Guard
At 16 years old, he and his family moved to Ellicot City, MD where he studied computing at Anne Arundel Community College to obtain his high school diploma.
He dropped out.
Later he obtained his G.E.D. (Where?)
May 7, 2004
At age 21, he joined the U.S. Army
Discharged from the army because of two broken legs suffered in a training accident
No dates available
Security Guard at a covert facility at the University of Maryland.
What covert facility is at the University of Maryland??
Why did he take a job as a security guard, when later we learn his works on IT security with the C.I.A.?
He went from being a security guard at N.S.A. to I.T. security at the C.I.A. Strange.
Worked on IT security.
Where did he get the qualification to work on IT security? Unknown, since all we know is that he earned a G.E.D. after dropping out of Anne Arundel Community College where he was trying to earn his high school diploma.
At 24 years old and with nothing more than a G.E.D., he is placed by the C.I.A. in Geneva, Switzerland, WITH DIPLOMATIC COVER.
His job: Computer network security.
Snowden left the C.I.A. for a private contractor (who?) inside a N.S.A. facility on a U.S. military base in Japan.
Snowden worked for Booz, Allen, Hamilton less than 3 months as a system administrator at a N.S.A. facility in Hawaii earning, according to B.A.H., $122,000/year.
June 10, 2013
Fired from Booz, Allen, Hamilton.
Snowden has said that he has a "predisposition to seek asylum in a country with shared values," and that his ideal choice would be Iceland. But that looks increasingly unlikely. The other two "shared values" countries he may seek asylum in are China (Hong Kong) and Russia. Two countries with totalitarian governments.
"Snowden fled to Hong Kong when he knew publication of his leaks was imminent. In his interview, he said he went there because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent.”
This may be true, in some limited way, but the overriding fact is that Hong Kong is part of China, which is, as Snowden knows, a stalwart adversary of the United States in intelligence matters. Snowden is now at the mercy of the Chinese leaders who run Hong Kong. As a result, all of Snowden’s secrets may wind up in the hands of the Chinese government—which has no commitment at all to free speech or the right to political dissent. And that makes Snowden a hero?" --Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker
I find it exceedingly strange that Edward Snowden could have held positions with the C.I.A. and N.S.A. without any obvious academic credentials or demonstrated technical expertise. As of now, I am unable to find where he received his training for his IT jobs. I'm still looking, but there isn't a lot out there on this young man.
The most glaring anomaly is his DIPLOMATIC COVER given to him by the C.I.A.
The link from Wikipedia says this on diplomatic cover:
"In espionage, an official cover operative is an operative who assumes a position in an organization with diplomatic ties to the government for which they work.
Official cover operatives are granted a set of governmental protections, and if caught in the act of espionage, they can request diplomatic protection from their government. In other words, official cover operatives are agents officially recognized by their country."
"Among the questions is how a contract employee at a distant NSA satellite office was able to obtain a copy of an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a highly classified document that would presumably be sealed from most employees and of little use to someone in his position.
A former senior NSA official said that the number of agency officials with access to such court orders is 'maybe 30 or maybe 40. Not large numbers.'
'The spy you want in an organization may not be the executive assistant to the secretary of state; it may be the guy in the bowels of the IT department because he has system-administrator privileges and because that person is also in a position to insert malware into your system to facilitate remote access,' Brenner said.
Further information about Snowden’s personal and professional life was scant Monday."
Maybe there are explanations for all the questions in this post. I'm still looking. But I do find all of what we DO know very curious. How did Edward Snowden get so far so quickly with so little?
I know what I'm thinking. Is anyone else thinking the same?
The Talented Mr. Ripley could learn a few tricks from the very talented Mr. Snowden.